The Rangers traded forward Brendan Lemieux to the Kings in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round draft pick, the team announced Saturday night.
Lemieux, who has one year remaining after this season on the two-year, $3.1 million contract he signed with the Rangers last November, finishes his Blueshirts career with 11 goals, 20 assists and 214 penalty minutes. With the addition of the Kings’ pick, the Rangers now have nine selections in the 2021 NHL Draft, including six in the first four rounds.
The 25-year-old Lemieux primarily played the role of a fourth-line agitator during his tenure with the Rangers. He was one of the few players on the roster who brought an element of physicality.
It appears the organization was looking to open a spot in the lineup, presumably to accommodate Vitali Kravtsov, who recently joined the team after a stellar KHL season.
Lemieux, who has seven points and 59 penalty minutes in 31 games this season, came to the Rangers in the 2019 trade-deadline deal that sent Kevin Hayes to the Jets. In 162 NHL games, Lemieux has recorded 21 goals and 43 points split between the Jets and Rangers.
The Rangers’ 2-1 loss in Philadelphia Saturday marked the sixth straight game without head coach David Quinn, who has been in COVID-19 protocol since March 17.
The Blueshirts, who will be traveling to Washington on Sunday for the second of back-to-back road games this weekend, are still unsure who will be behind the bench against the Capitals.
“We haven’t made any decisions, that hasn’t been confirmed yet,” acting head coach Kris Knoblauch said Saturday afternoon.
Assistant coaches Jacques Martin and Greg Brown were cleared to rejoin the team on Thursday, but Quinn and assistant David Oliver are still in the protocol. Martin was back down at ice level Thursday and Saturday with Knoblauch, while Brown stayed upstairs for both games. Associate general manager Chris Drury has been assisting with coaching responsibilities since March 17.
Under Knoblauch, the AHL Wolf Pack’s head coach, the Rangers have a 4-2 record.
The coaching staff isn’t the only thing up in the air for the Rangers heading into Sunday’s matinee. Knoblauch said the team is still unsure who will start in goal. Considering Igor Shesterkin made back-to-back starts in the last two games in Philadelphia, expect to see either Alexandar Georgiev or Keith Kinkaid between the pipes.
“No we have not decided [who will be in net Sunday],” Knoblauch said. “When we get to Washington, talk to the coaching staff, with everyone, then we’ll make that decision. But right now we haven’t.”
With his power-play goal in the first period Saturday, Mika Zibanejad has now recorded goals in four of the Rangers’ past six games and extended his point streak to four games.
Zibanejad tied for a team-high three shots on net in the loss, while also registering three blocked shots and three hits in 22:58 of ice time. Zibanejad has tallied seven goals and six assists for 13 points in the last three matchup against the Flyers this season. He has scored more goals against the Flyers than he has against any other opponent in his NHL career (13).
In six games against the Flyers this season, Zibanejad has recorded 15 points (seven goals, eight assists), which has tied him with Jaromir Jagr (2005-06) for the most a Ranger has accumulated against Philadelphia in one season in franchise history.